Skip to comments.Congregation of St. Nicholas' to worship together one last time
Posted on 05/27/2005 5:29:07 PM PDT by sionnsar
MIDLAND, TX- After a final worship service at St. Nicholas' Episcopal Church on Sunday, May 29 at 7:00 pm, almost the entire congregation will leave their prominent church building and start a new church called Christ Church Midland.
"At this last gathering of our congregational family, there will be grief, but also hope and confidence as we move forward to share Christ's love as a new church, Christ Church Midland," Rev. Jon Stasney, rector (senior pastor) of St. Nicholas', said.
Earlier this month, the Episcopal Bishop of Northwest Texas, Wallis Ohl, told the vast majority of the St. Nicholas' congregation to leave their church property by June 1. The congregation built and paid for their building only four years ago.
"Bishop Ohl's instruction that we leave our church home hurts deeply, but it's clear God is calling us to stand up for Biblical values and share Christ's love in new ways," Stasney said.
"We are standing with the majority of Christians throughout the world and throughout time."
St. Nicholas' leaders told Ohl in March that most of their congregation could no longer tolerate the non-Biblical actions of the Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA). For example, ECUSA elected Gene Robinson, a self-declared homosexual living openly in relationship with a male partner, as Bishop of New Hampshire, in 2003.
At the same convention, ECUSA also approved the blessing of same sex unions and refused to reaffirm adherence to traditional Christian teachings.
ECUSA has refused to back down, despite pleas from its own leaders and other American Christians, as well as bishops of the international Anglican Communion, of which ECUSA is the American counterpart.
"Our people began to vote with their feet and their pocketbooks this year. They began leaving, and giving fell by 50%. Our leaders asked Bishop Ohl to help us find a solution that would keep our congregation together, as part of the Anglican Communion, while remaining in our church home," Rev. Jonathan Hartzer, St. Nicholas' associate rector, said.
Other Episcopal churches and their bishops have worked out such agreements. With Ohl's approval, St. Nicholas' leaders polled their congregation in April to verify their sentiments.
In the poll, almost 90% of the congregation expressed their desire to disassociate from ECUSA, but remain Anglican. Then, at the first negotiation session, Bishop Ohl refused to discuss the matter and told the majority to leave their church and property.
"Bishop Ohl's action shocked our congregation. But God works even through injustice, because this congregation is leaving everything behind and joyfully starting Christ Church Midland, where we will continue to share the love of Christ," Hartzer said. According to the poll at St. Nicholas', thirty-one people will remain behind to continue an Episcopal parish on the St. Nicholas' property.
Some of those remaining behind have expressed that they too disagree with the actions of the Episcopal Church but prefer to work for reform from within.
The willingness of the majority to move out and start a new church has generated strong support in Midland and encouragement from around the world. Almost twenty churches in Midland have endorsed the newly formed church.
"The international attention comes because the Anglican Communion's Primates (provincial bishops) expect the Episcopal Church and its bishops to protect congregations like St. Nicholas'," Stasney said. Stasney and Hartzer will move along with the congregation to serve Christ Church Midland, which will meet at Midland Classical Academy high school staring June 5.
St. Nicholas' was one of the two largest Episcopal congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas. Published figures for 2003 indicate the congregation's average Sunday attendance, around 323, was the largest of any Episcopal church in the region.
St. Nicholas' historically contributed about ten percent of the diocese' annual budget. After starting as a small neighborhood church in 1956, St. Nicholas' built its church off Loop 250 North and began worshipping there in 2001.
Contact: Rev. Jonathan Hartzer St. Nicholas' Episcopal Church email@example.com (432) 694-8856
They are sad, of course, because of the injustice visited upon the true Christians. But they are good too, because those folks will come back stronger than ever. They are really, truly sad for the "Episopalians" who have sold out to evil. That's the sad part. If that V. Gene Robinson isn't destined for hell itself, I'd be very surprised.
But, take that with a grain of salt, because I'm a Roman Catholic who asked my mother at about age 9 if Henry VIII was in hell. She told me that was not a question for us mere mortals to ponder on.
Sad that one active homosexual deviant can divide such a great church.
It would be interesting to learn the real amount of ECUSA's income since 2003 as compared to 2002. but that's probably a deeply held secret in the New York headquarters.
Where would one send a contribution to help Christ Church Midland?
Ummm... to Christ Church, Midland, TX?
[stories like this are sad -- but for those leaving there are brighter days ahead. --sionnsar]
Agreed. The grief is for those who are left behind and walk around in darkness.
That *would* be interesting... hmm...
Absolutely... but you see it happening on smaller scales daily -- prideful pastors dividing bodies of imperfect people due to their own spiritual immaturity. Happens all the time. But it should not be so.
ping to moi for later pingout.
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